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British Chess Magazine Vol 42 (1922)  
Joseph Henry Blackburne
Number of games in database: 980
Years covered: 1861 to 1916
Overall record: +453 -237 =216 (61.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      74 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 French Defense (64) 
    C11 C01 C14 C00 C13
 Ruy Lopez (53) 
    C77 C65 C60 C67 C70
 Scotch Game (49) 
 Vienna Opening (42) 
    C25 C29 C26 C28
 French (39) 
    C11 C00 C13 C10
 Evans Gambit (36) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (86) 
    C01 C11 C00 C14 C02
 Ruy Lopez (45) 
    C61 C62 C66 C63 C60
 French (38) 
    C11 C00 C10 C13
 Sicilian (33) 
    B45 B21 B22 B25 B27
 Queen's Pawn Game (26) 
    D00 D02 D05 A46 A40
 Scandinavian (23) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   NN vs Blackburne, 1880 0-1
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863 1-0
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871 0-1
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863 0-1
   Blackburne vs J Schwarz, 1881 1-0
   Blackburne vs Mr. L, 1886 1-0
   Bird vs Blackburne, 1886 0-1
   Blackburne vs Lipschutz, 1889 1-0
   Blackburne vs NN, 1894 1-0
   R Steel vs Blackburne, 1881 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Berlin (1881)
   Vienna (1873)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   Hamburg (1885)
   Paris (1878)
   London (1883)
   Baden-Baden (1870)
   9th DSB Kongress, Leipzig (1894)
   Berlin (1897)
   Vienna (1882)
   London (1899)
   Breslau (1889)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   Vienna (1898)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen, Blackburne, Charousek by fredthebear
   tactics 2 by tactics
   Blindfold Blackburne by ughaibu
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   London 1883 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1873 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1882 by suenteus po 147
   FAVORITE PLAYERS by gambitfan
   td14's favorite games by td14
   Joseph Henry Blackburne by capybara
   London 1899 by suenteus po 147
   Tullius' favorite games by Tullius
   Paris 1878 by suenteus po 147
   Blackburne and Tal meet NN by ughaibu

   NN vs Blackburne, 1880
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863
   Bird vs Blackburne, 1886
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Joseph Henry Blackburne
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(born Dec-10-1841, died Sep-01-1924, 82 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]
Joseph Henry Blackburne was born in Chorlton, Manchester. He came to be known as "The Black Death". He enjoyed a great deal of success giving blindfold and simultaneous exhibitions. Tournament highlights include first place with Wilhelm Steinitz at Vienna 1873, first at London 1876, and first at Berlin 1881 ahead of Johannes Zukertort. In matchplay he lost twice to Steinitz and once to Emanuel Lasker. He fared a little better with Zukertort (Blackburne - Zukertort (1881)) and Isidor Gunsberg, by splitting a pair of matches, and defeating Francis Joseph Lee, ( Blackburne - Lee (1890) ). One of the last successes of his career was at the age of 72, when he tied for first place with Fred Dewhirst Yates at the 1914 British Championship.

In his later years, a subscription by British chess players provided an annuity of £100 (approx £4,000 in 2015 value), and a gift of £250 on his 80th birthday.

In 1923 he suffered a stroke, and the next year he died of a heart attack.

Note: Blackburne played on the teams of Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Bird / MacDonnell, Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Aloof, Steinitz / Blackburne, Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere, Blackburne / Potter, Blackburne / Horace Chapman & Joseph Henry Blackburne / Allies.

Wikipedia article: Joseph Henry Blackburne

1 Source: Grantham Journal - Saturday 17 December 1921, p.3.

 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 980  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-050 1861 Manchester (England)C15 French, Winawer
2. A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne 0-124 1861 ManchesterC44 King's Pawn Game
3. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-033 1861 Manchester blind simC00 French Defense
4. Mongredien vs Blackburne  ½-½35 1862 LondonC33 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Blackburne vs Paulsen 0-155 1862 LondonD00 Queen's Pawn Game
6. Blackburne vs A G Howard 1-036 1862 Blindfold simulC55 Two Knights Defense
7. Steinitz vs Blackburne 1-042 1862 London (England)C01 French, Exchange
8. Paulsen vs Blackburne  ½-½36 1862 LondonA07 King's Indian Attack
9. Blackburne vs Anderssen 1-024 1862 London HaringayC37 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Blackburne vs A Pigott 1-021 1862 Blindfold simulC34 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Blackburne vs J B Payne 1-030 1862 ManchesterC45 Scotch Game
12. Blackburne vs F Deacon  0-144 1862 LondonC41 Philidor Defense
13. Blackburne vs Owen 1-023 1862 LondonB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
14. Blackburne vs J F Gillam 0-132 1862 Blindfold simulB40 Sicilian
15. Blackburne vs Steinitz 0-140 1862 London (England)C51 Evans Gambit
16. Dubois vs Blackburne ½-½41 1862 LondonC00 French Defense
17. Blackburne vs Hamiliton 1-028 1862 BFX ManchesterC38 King's Gambit Accepted
18. Blackburne vs H Young ½-½24 1862 Blindfold simulC41 Philidor Defense
19. Blackburne vs Lomax 1-039 1862 ManchesterC01 French, Exchange
20. Hannah vs Blackburne 1-041 1862 LondonC42 Petrov Defense
21. Blackburne vs T W Barnes 0-153 1862 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
22. Blackburne vs W J Evelyn 1-032 1862 Blindfold simulC21 Center Game
23. Blackburne vs Steinitz ½-½16 1862 LondonC67 Ruy Lopez
24. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-053 1862 LondonC01 French, Exchange
25. Blackburne vs A G Puller 1-050 1862 Blindfold simulC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 980  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Blackburne wins | Blackburne loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Nosnibor: In 1919 at the age of nearly 78 Blackburne gave two simultaneous exhibitions at the Victory Tournament in Hastings,losing only one game(Oskam) out of forty three.What a battling player he was!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: Blackburne (without Ng1) - NN:

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 Bc5 5. O-O d6 6. Nxc3 Nc6 7. Kh1 Be6 8. Bb5 Qd7 9. f4 f6 10. b4 Bb6 11. f5 Bf7 12. e5 fxe5 13. Qg4 g6 14. fxg6 Qxg4 15. gxf7+ Kf8 16. fxg8=Q+ Kxg8 17. Bh6 Qh4 18. Rf6 Qxf6 19. Bc4+ Qf7 20. Nd5 Qe6 21. Rf1 Qxh6 22. Ne7+ Kg7 23. Rf7# 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  Nosnibor: There will be a new book to be published in connection with Blackburne.This is due out shortly and I have placed my order with Tim Harding who is without question one of our leading chess historians. R.I.P.Master Blackburne.
Dec-28-14  poorthylacine: TO NOSNIBOR: thank you a lot for this information!!
I will order this book as soon it will be available, because this kind of books may be soon exhausted, like the one of Jimmy Adams about Zukertort which was a long time not available before reprinting!!

I hope many of the games will be annotated: Blackburne is one of my favorite players of the nineteenth century, together with Zukertort and Mackenzie, even I have of course much respect and admiration for Steinitz...

Dec-28-14  poorthylacine: I like too the book about the games of Anderssen by Gottschall, the only problem I need an electronic microscope to read it, lol!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Whiskey stimulates the imagination--but eating a big meal before the game is equivalent to giving knight odds.>

The great man was, of course, known to stimulate his imagination thus.

This recalls a Walter Browne interview in CL&R long ago, in which he stated that he was more than willing to buy that evening's opponent a steak dinner. 'Let him try to play after that'.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant'. - Henry Blackburne

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: "The Grand Old Man" of British chess, Mr. Joseph H. Blackburne, received a cheque for £250 from British and foreign chess players, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Saturday last. Mr. Blackburne is a Manchester man, and has played in all parts the world and against all the famous chess players. He already has annuity of £100, provided by chess enthusiasts."

Source: <"Grantham Journal", Saturday 17th December 1921, p.3.>

£100 in 1921 = approx £4,000 in 2015

May-13-15  Xeroxx: 21015 value?! wow.
May-21-15  Tullius: If you want to see a few pictures of Mr Blackburne's grave in Ladywell Cemetery you can find them here: http://streathambrixtonchess.blogsp... I hope it works.
I think his grave is in a terrible state and something should be done about it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chess is a kind of mental alcohol… unless a man has supreme self-control. It is better that he should not learn to play chess. I have never allowed my children to learn it, for I have seen too much of its evil results> - Joseph Blackburne.
Jul-07-15  zanzibar: The forthcoming Harding book mentioned by Nosnibor above:

Joseph Henry Blackburne (kibitz #165)

has had its proofs delivered to the publisher and is expected to go to press by September:

Aug-22-15  WTHarvey: Here's a 12 page, 'no ads', print edition pamphlet with 55 puzzles from the games of Blackburne @ What's the winning move ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Tullius> remember what a pig's ear they made of the grave of Johannes Zukertort.
Aug-24-15  ketchuplover: Keep up the good work Mr.Harvey :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Black Death!
Jan-12-16  zanzibar: From Graham's <Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess> p3:

<Two things combined to bring him into this career. First, his fame was ever waxing greater, and in the year 1861 it happened that Herr Paulsen came to Manchester on one of his blindfold itineraries. Blackburne took a board, and was beaten in a very pretty game, which will be found in its proper place in the book. The effect of this was to stir within him a great desire to try blindfold play on his own account.

The very next day he induced a strong player to begin a contest in which Blackburne should not see the board. He came off victorious, and shortly after played three opponents with the same result. That was in the winter of 1861. In the spring of 1862 he engaged four opponents successfully, the games produced being bright attractive specimens that have been preserved: and will repay the trouble of playing over even to-day. After that he challenged ten members of the Manchester Club, and emerged with the fine score of five wins, two losses and three draws.>

(para added for readability)

Jan-12-16  zanzibar: Harding's <Blackburne> book is now published:

Harding himself has some additional pages:

Reviews -

Research -

General info -

Jan-13-16  zanzibar: After demonstrating his blindfold skills in a simul (5-2-3), and doing a knight's tour at the London (1862), on Friday July 4:

<Shortly after the termination of these blindfold feats, Mr. Wilson, who had been opposed to Mr. Blackburne at board Ho. 8, and who had been struck by the talent displayed by him, placed in the hands of the Committee the sum of ten guineas, to be used by them at their discretion in promo ting a match between him and some other player of emi nence. In consequence of the protraction of the Tourna ments, the Committee were unable to carry out the donor's wish until December, when, Mr. Blackburne being again in London, a match was made between him and Herr Steinitz. It was played at the rooms of the London Chess Club,
whose members had increased the stakes to £15 ; the result was, that Herr Steinitz won 7 games, Mr. Blackburne 1, and two were drawn.>

(Lowenthal p lxiii)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: American Chess Magazine, v. 2-3 (July 1898-Dec. 1899):

<Few people know, says M. A. P., in the Glasgow Herald, "that Mr. Blackburne, who has once more vindicated his title as the first of the English players, was in earlier life a worker in stone, and that the premises of the Law Life Assurance Society, adjoining the Church of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, Fleet street, show practical evidences of his skill in that craft.>

The adddress of that building is now (still?) 187 Fleet Street. Impossible to know if any of Blackburne's handiwork survives; the current structure dates from 1834, but Blackburne probably worked on it in the early-mid 1860s.

Here's a present view of the building front:

Seems I struck out completely appealing for owners of the Reshevsky book, but surely someone here will have Harding's recent one on Blackburne. Does it shed any light on this subject?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I'll try and go there this week. I know the building and it is very pretty.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: A family member used to work in Fleet St. during its heydays, but I've never been there once.

I found this page which shows then (1870s) and now pictures of the buildings on the far side of St. Dunstan's:

I'd say it's possible but unlikely that the present front of 187 dates from the nineteenth century. Oh, Joseph, where is thy monument?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I've just walked past it. I took a load of crappy photos which I've put on Bookface. Link to follow.
May-13-16  zanzibar: Still waiting for that link...

* * * * *

Blackburne commenting on the <Ruy Lopez>:

<This, the most fashionable opening of to-day, was in not great favour in the sixties. It is a game I never play in a tournament, except when I feel a little off colour and am content with a draw, and then it means losing half a point. In a match this does not matter, as it leaves the two opponents precisely where they were before, but in a tournament every draw costs something, as the leaders usually win the majority of their games.>

Blackburne/Graham p35/52

May-25-16  zanzibar: I haven't scanned all the previous pages, so this might have been noted before...

Pop Quiz.

Q- What is the shortest game Blackburne played and lost?

(Wonder if Harding has this story?)

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